Running is perhaps one of the most effective ways to lose weight, but that doesn't mean it's a magic bullet. In fact, you may gain a few pounds early on as you lose fat but add muscle, which is denser and heavier than fat. But if you're consistent with your running and stick to a healthy diet, you'll literally run off some excess pounds.
Here are some of the most successful strategies for runners who want to lose weight:
1. Don't Skip Meals
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You're not going to lose weight any faster if you miss meals. In fact, it will just make you hungrier, which increases your temptation to eat everything in sight. You also won't burn as many calories during your runs as you would if you were properly fueled.
2. Run Several Times a Week
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Individuals who successfully loss weight and keep it off burn about 2,800 calories a week through planned exercise, according to statistics from the National WeightControl Registry. Assuming an average of 100 calories per mile, that's about 28 miles, so make that your goal if running is your only form of exercise. Don't worry about your pace or the intensity of your run -- just getting the miles in will burn the calories.
More: How to Stick to Your Running Habit7 Ways to Sneak in Running Time
3. Be Patient
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We're all looking for a quick fix when it comes to weight loss, but don't expect to get it from running. A healthy weight loss rate is 1/2 to one pound a week, so don't anticipate losing more than that. Set a reasonable goal for weight loss, like five pounds in two months.
Not only will you burn calories while you're strength-training, but your increased lean muscle mass will improve your running performance, so you'll be able to run faster and longer, and burn more calories when running. Strength-training also helps prevent running injuries, so you'll be able to maintain your commitment to exercise by staying injury-free.
Beginners' Guide to Strength-Training
Benefits of Strength-Training for Runners
5. Spread Out Your Calories
It's better to eat several small meals and snacks throughout the day than to eat a huge breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You'll reduce your temptation to binge and you'll also gain more flexibility in scheduling your runs because you won't have to wait until you digest big meals.
More: Healthy Snacks for Runners
How Do I Avoid Feeling Hungry?
6. Fill your plate with non-starchy veggies.
Aim to have some vegetables – tomatoes, carrots, zucchini, spinach and other greens, for example – with every meal. They're full of fiber, so you'll feel satisfied and less tempted to overeat or reach for a calorie-laden dessert.
7. Track Your Foods
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Write down everything you eat and drink for at least a few days. You may be shocked at how many calories you're taking in, but it will help you identify areas for improvement. You can track your foods in your training journal, so you can also see what kind of effect certain foods have on your performance.
More: How to Determine Your Daily Calorie Needs
8. Watch How You Eat